Minnesota’s goaltending saga continued on Friday, as head coach Mike Yeo said that Darcy Kuemper — who started the Wild’s Game 7 win over Colorado — didn’t travel with the team to Chicago due to an upper-body injury, and that Josh Harding, who took today’s morning skate, is an “extreme long-shot” to play in this series.
That means — barring a brazen decision to put 30-year-old journeyman John Curry in goal — Ilya Bryzgalov is your Game 1 starter tonight at the United Center.
The Kuemper development isn’t a huge surprise. He was hooked from Wednesday’s 5-4 OT win against the Avs with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation, after appearing to have re-aggravated his concussion issues (maybe not the right terminology there, but I digress) on a collision with Matt Duchene.
Here’s more, from the Minnesota Star-Tribune:
Duchene collided with Kuemper behind the net. Kuemper fell and his head hit Ryan Suter’s knee. He looked shaken up but stayed in the game. The Stastny and Johnson goals probably should have been stopped. With 8:13 left, Suter went over to Kuemper to talk to him.
He skated to the bench, talked to Yeo and Ilya Bryzgalov stood up and finally entered the game after athletic therapist Don Fuller pulled Kuemper. Kuemper missed the final seven regular-season games and couldn’t start Games 1 and 2 of this series with a concussion. I think he had a relapse.
The Harding development is a little more surprising. While he’s been around the team for a while now and resumed practicing in early April, Harding hasn’t played Dec. 31 after undergoing a chance in his treatment protocol for multiple sclerosis. He took an extended leave from the team because he wasn’t feeling well — something many assumed would lead to him being shut down for the year — but Yeo made a point of saying he hasn’t ruled out Harding’s return (while acknowledging such a return was unlikely, of course).
If Harding’s healthy, the possibility of getting him back is huge. He playing at a Vezina-caliber level prior to going on IR, posting outrageous numbers ( 18-7-2, 1.66 GAA, .933 save percentage) while emerging as the Wild’s first-half MVP.
The ‘Canes made a fairly big coaching splash on Tuesday, announcing they hired New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson to become the new bench boss in AHL Charlotte.
“Ulf has built a very strong coaching resume during a decade behind the bench in the AHL, NHL and Swedish league,” Carolina GM Ron Francis said in a release. “He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here.”
Samuelsson, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Francis in Pittsburgh during the 90s, has spent the last three seasons as Alain Vigneault’s right-hand man in New York, helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final in ’14 and the Eastern Conference Final last season.
Prior to joining the Rangers, he spent two seasons as head coach for Modo of the Swedish Hockey League.
Samuelsson will replace Mark Morris in Charlotte, after Morris accepted the head coaching gig at St. Lawrence University. Morris had only been on the job for one year, having inherited the position from former ‘Cane Jeff Daniels.
It sounds like Patrick Marleau won’t be suspended for his hit on Penguins forward Bryan Rust (top) in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
After the game, Marleau told reporters that he was pretty confident he wouldn’t be suspended and it sounds like he’s right.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t see things the same way.
“It’s a blindside hit to the head,” he said. “[Marleau] gets a penalty and I’m sure the league will look at it.”
Marleau was given a two-minute penalty for an illegal hit to the head on the play.
Rust played a single shift after taking the hit, but he went to the locker room after that and didn’t return. Sullivan said he’s day-to-day. It’s unclear if Rust will practice with the team on Tuesday.
Former Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish passed away on Monday night. He was 66-years-old. The organization confirmed the news early Tuesday morning. MacLeish was battling meningitis as well as kidney and liver problems, per Philly.com.
“With the passing of Rick MacLeish, the Flyers have lost one of their legends,” Flyers President Paul Holmgren said in a release. “A good father, grandfather, teammate and friend, Rick will be missed by all who were fortunate to come and know him over the years. His happy and friendly demeanor was front and center everywhere Rick went. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Rick’s wife, Charlene, his daughters, Danielle and Brianna along with his grandchildren. May he rest in peace.”
MacLeish first put on a Flyers jersey during the 1970-71 season. He would go on to score 349 goals and 759 points in 846 NHL games with Philadelphia, Hartford, Pittsburgh and Detroit. MacLeish also scored what is considered to be the most important goal in Flyers history when he netted the opening goal in Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final against Boston. The Flyers would clinch their first Stanley Cup that night.
He won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Flyers and was named an NHL All-Star three times in his career.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
—Pascal Dupuis wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune.
—Matt Cullen also wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune called “Hockey Dad”.
—Dainius Zubrus is making his third trip to the cup final, but he still hasn’t won one. (Puck Daddy)
–Watch the highlights from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Top)
–Here’s the Punjabi call of Nick Bonino‘s game-winning goal. (Streamable)
–Speaking of Bonino, he’s been pretty clutch this postseason:
–The NHL still wants to play an outdoor game on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Ottawa Sun)